Wednesday, February 18, 2009

PEN Kenya President arrested

Reports have been reaching me today that friend, writer and PEN colleague, Philo Ikonya, has been arrested outside the Kenyan Parliament during a peaceful protest about the price of maize and the connected corruption scandal. She remains unreleased and without charges. Having just returned from a trip to Kenya in which I spent a great deal of time with Philo, I have witnessed her passion for grassroots change to overcome corruption, an emerging famine, and remaining murmurs of the damaging tribalism which set of post-election violence last year. Her commitment to her country, to freedom of expression and fellow Kenyans is powerful and I know she will always use her great creativity and communication skills to work for justice and empowerment, sometimes, as today, at personal cost. From wearing her protest sackcloth, to talking up a different approach to Valentine's Day, she smiles, talks, inspires others. We're watching you Philo, and sending you strength and the resolution of a rapid release.

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